*are you there god?*

Are you there god?

It’s me…Wait this has been done before, crap.

Let’s start again with something more original,

Hi god or god like thing I don’t know what else to call you besides god, yeah, me here

I guess there are only so many ways to skin a cat or talk to god.

For the rest of the month I will take up prayer.

I am an X-Jesus freak, church attending, god lover and the only time I pray is when I pass car accidents or am getting test results back, and it sort of slips out of me, like cussing when I drop a glass on the floor.

God?  I can’t say if it is my greater self, my current self, the universe, the divine, my subjective reality or one of us (oh, bad joke). Frankly, I don’t really care at this point in the game (22 days of being a yogi, 28 years old and in Armenia). This apathy for a universal truth is fairly a-typical  to my disposition but the definition isn’t as important as the inquiry, spoken like a true Unitarian. I do long to continuously alter and understand how I define my relationship with this thing/concept and how that fits into my life (if at all) after this month.

I remember listening to some guy talk about his religious beliefs (no source info because I don’t remember who it was or where I heard this) and he was explaining his own ‘faith.’ He knows for certain that he can’t be certain about the divine or anything in the supernatural realm, but regardless, he makes a choice to believe in a god. This willful belief is constructed for the sole reason, it makes his life better to hold this belief, and to conduct his life as if there is such an entity, than where he to not “believe.” It isn’t as simple for me but I feel more comfortable thinking about our connection to the world and to each other, the force of love or the power of trust and the magnitude of the universe as my constructed god.  Heck, I like to think of religion or spirituality like a buffet table I can pick and choose how I am feeling at that moment and maybe one day I want a salad (god) and the next a jello with fruit inside (god).

Girls swirled in dresses of pink and I would braid your hair
I danced with you in the moonlight and the stars would hum a tune
My feet atop of yours, I would float on clouds and lullabies.
Pen to ink
Black on white
Red, hot, fire and screams
You threw me into the flames and I felt the world swallow me whole
The smoke choked, blinded and I lost sight of the sound
The white of fog settled and you were farther than I could see
I thought maybe you were only of a dream
Words held me in their gentle hands and I slept with the likes of men and women who had no form only text.
You couldn’t take me to the depths of the chaos, to the end of the end
I forgot

I would find you as I stumbled, lost in a dark alley,
Eyeliner, mascara and cigarettes
“My shoes are broken,” I would say
I was drunk and crying
You told me, “You don’t need them anyway”
“What do you know old man,” I would hiss my spit venom.

You would sell me candies that were hard and sour
I would work them in my mouth for hours, tonguing them passionately
They would leak syrupy honey through a small crack
The thick sweetness would coat my mouth and would begin to pour like rain from the sky and tears of a new born

Then there was nothing

You would visit me again, in music notes, sitting a rest upon a star, at the end of a river of tears you would be waiting under a tree, you liked to creep in silently like a cat and rest at my feet

I saw you again the other day,

You have changed; you looked older, kinder, and gentler than I remembered

You seem, now, to show up in the strangest of places; in the faces of people I have never met, in flowers lining the streets, in the bottom of a cup of tea, at the end of words holding on to the tails of sentences and taking a nap in the creases of books. You are much more unrestrained now than I recall, you extend like the sweet scent of lavender in the summer and I delight in simply enjoying the lingering and savoring the fleeting.

Eyes change as the years pass and mine once searched for you and now they can’t help but find you.

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*free your mind*

Let it be

60,000 that is what I have heard is the number of thoughts an average person has per day. Ok, so this number is as about accurate as anything on yahoo answers, but that is beside the point. The point, your brain is full; full of neurons firing and electrical impulses, that take the form of your thoughts. I love thinking. It is one of my favorite past-times, along with picnics, dancing badly, and hula hooping. Sometimes my thoughts are really interesting and exciting, like NASA but other times they are like a hamster running in a hamster wheel, going nowhere. One of the most sci-fi things that I have been doing lately has been altering my thoughts, yogi’s love this kind of stuff hence it is part of my yogi lifestyle.

Altering your thoughts: the break down….

1. Awareness


Alright now I know that you have a swell little noggin and the first thing that you have to do in turning your brain into your buddy, is become a good listener. Just as in any relationship, pour yourself a cup of tea and sit down for a good chat. Settle down and tune in and turn up the volume, you have to actually become aware of the thoughts that enter into your brain. Listen to the voice inside of your head; what kinds of things is it saying? what is it telling you to do? Then listen to how it is being said, is it negative? inspiring? positive? Then check out your bod, how does this voice make you feel; energized, tired, weak, excited? But most important check the judgment at the door, just notice.

2. Ask questions


The thing to not do is get all hyped up emotionally and then ask, “WHY!? oh WHY???!!” I promise this will do nothing except cause you to feel more miserable, more helpless, and more hopeless. Save yourself the booze and the bellyaching, wait until you calm down a bit and then ask some questions and when asked properly, ‘why‘ can be a friend not a foe. For myself, I place a lot of value on doing stuff. Consequently, a lot of my thoughts consist of what I need to do, should do, want to do, or all that I am not doing and could be doing; all of these are riddled with judgment.
If I ask myself the question, “why do you need to do this action?” I would answer something like, ” because I feel of value when I am productive,” then I could ask further, “why do you feel of value when you are productive?” …and then I would just keep on asking and the deeper into the hole you go the closer you become to understand where those thoughts come from. Ask away, little Alice.

2. Identify beliefs


Once you identify the things that make you think the thoughts you thunk, aka the beliefs. You can take out your magnifying glass and notebook because there is some inspection (or introspection) to do Watson. The cool thing is it is like cleaning house, keep around the stuff that you like and toss out the stuff that is outdated and out of fashion.  But before you toss out the old you have to wipe some of that dust off and bring it into the light. Most likely this relic of a belief was formed when you were pretty young. You, most likely, didn’t have a say in this creation and it has stuck around you for the years that followed, without your knowing. It isn’t something that you consciously decided, I want to believe this about the world. Once you find it begin to ask more questions-is this true, has this always been true, will this always be true? The reason for asking these types of questions is you believe this on some level, what you are trying to do now is shake things up. Get yourself creating a world where, maybe. just maybe, this isn’t true.

4. change your beliefs


Changing beliefs sounds SO hard. Please, Change?! I took some class in school and there were all these stages and steps and gosh, maybe I am in contemplative or pre-contemplative or maybe I will never change? eeeks. Believe *wink* me, it isn’t hard. Some of the common beliefs that people want to change are about worthlessness, helplessness and other totally self-crippling ideas.  Once these beliefs are brought out into the open they often seem really silly and you might even be  amazed that you ever believed such a thing. Some, though, can require a bit more elbow grease to shine em up and turn them into something beautiful. If you know you want to implant a new, cooler, hipper belief you can do that-ask yourself, what would I like to believe instead? BE-CAREFUL, self-affirmations are really lame and don’t work. If you tell yourself, ‘I am healthy and beautiful’ and you really believe ‘I am ugly and unhealthy,’ it wont work, no matter how many times you look at yourself in the mirror and repeat what you want to believe. No way, you have to really believe it. To do this, you have to break the old belief apart. Write down this belief and then write down all the ways you are NOT that; see it, feel it, and then you will believe that you are not what you thought you were, once and you are what you want to be, now.

5. control those thought


This is the part where you have implanted your own beliefs. You have created beliefs that reflect the reality you live in now, they empower you and make you feel solid and grounded. They are you but they can change as often as you want them to because you have the ability to alter them through your own consciousness. woot woot!

6. Crap, I forgot…


What happens when life happens; work, jobs, kids… Armenia.These things happen and sometimes being aware is the last thing that we want to do. Perhaps, you want to just get through the day, zone out, shut down, and be done. I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving yourself some r&r baby, cause it ain’t easy all the time. Sometimes our brains run away from us, and what can we do? I have ideas….that I will be adding to the mix for when life does that thing that it does. More later in the meantime…

I love this…

*veggie and friends*

You are what you eat…

The way to live like a yogi is to eat like a yogi. I am about to hop on the train that is stockpiled with veggies, fruit, natural grains and dairy. The yogis believe that we are one (literally) and food isn’t just that delicious thing that I buy from the grocery store in shinny packaging that I open and scarf. It isn’t the explosion in my mouth as my taste buds freak out from synthesized and processed deliciousness. It isn’t the colors, the sensations, the social aspect, the consumption, the packages, the chemicals…..wait, what IS it then??!!

It is the slow and mindful preparation of food, the shopping from the farmers market or local venders, the delicate hand picking as you smell and feel the produce, it is the combinations of colors and tastes and textures.

It is sitting down with your food presented to you-television off, book closed and slowly bite by bite, chewing, tasting and savoring. It isn’t how I eat now.

Yogi eating is conscious eating or mindful eating.

Mindful eating is:
*setting

*sitting


*slowing down


*savoring

There are so many great resources for the food lover and conscious consumer. In Armenia, my options are sometimes more limited and sometimes less limited. There are no Saturday markets but the streets are filled with produce  venders selling seasonal fruits and vegetables, the summer months are plentiful and the winter months are cabbage, potatoes and beats (this is not an exageration). The summer sun brings with it lots of apricots, cherries, strawberries and lower prices on just about everything.

One of my favorite things in this life is fresh produce and cooking yummy things. There are programs in the States that bring produce to you. The ‘CSA program‘ brings farm fresh produce straight to your door. It turns out to be reasonably priced as you can share the costs with friends, family or neighbors and you are speaking with you wallet, placing money in the hands of people whose values you support, those with that local and organic love. Every couple of weeks, CSA brings a box of fresh produce from local farms;  this is especially fun for the creative cooker. Imagine, opening a box that contained some of those less popular veggies, perhaps unknown to you, such as root veggies or greens that haven’t made your acquaintance; now is your chance to become full on besties.

This can be intimidating at first and a little scary to break away from the routine of your store bought goods or typical lunches, but the joy that can be found from uncovering and discovering deliciousness will tickle your tongue. There are some web sites that are great resources for recipe finding and food making…
*Epicurios
*All recipes
*Cooks
*Recipe goldmine
*Food network

The yogi diet is a traditional natural food based lifestyle that is animal free.  This lacto-vegetarian diet, includes; grains, fruit, veggies, nuts, dairy, and honey. This means this once steak and bacon eating and hard boiled egg enjoying lady is going to become a conscious do-gooder to the animals and animals that never were (eggs). This valient effort is only for the rest of this month so resist the urge to give me ‘animalitarian’ award.
I have found some inspiration for this new lifestyle from the internet, the blogs herbivoracious and 101 cookbooks are some of my favorite healthy and meatless spots and I can’t wait to explore the amazing blogs of post punk kitchen, would rather gather and the cuteness of have cake, will travel.

My challenge for the remainder of this month is to eat as close to the earth as possible and eliminate meat, fish and eggs and add dairy and honey. I think this means I have to stop using my SWEET artificial sweetener so I am going to pour myself another cup of tea and flavor it with sweet hyrdocarbons (?) and then post this.

*get your clean on*

Wake and Cleanse….

The next aspect of my ‘be yogi’ lifestyle is the morning routine and cleansing (what a sexy topic, right?).

Typically my morning routine starts with sitting in front of my computer, drinking tea, reading emails, checking facebook, reading for an hour, going for a walk, and then yoga. I am going to keep all these up but switch the order around and add a few things.

my new morning routine….

Wake and cleanse
For some reason, unbeknownst to me, there is actually literature about the proper way to eliminate waste from the body. First thing I am just going to say is, sick, (sorry I am not a yogi, yet) and I am going to spend zero energy writing about something I think that we are all schooled on and I am pretty sure our bodies are as well.
Moving on, teeth. The idea is that there is build up of waste that accumulates in your mouth and it is best to remove this before you consume any of your morning tea or coffee. So sleepy eyed and lacking caffeine brush those teeth. I am going to make a natural mouthwash by adding half a teaspoon of baking soda to a cup of water and a dash of salt for so fresh and so clean teeth.

Next on this interesting and exciting journey into the life of a yogi is nasal cleaning. It is really simple to cleans the nasal passage, this can be done using a Neti pot and a solution of warm water and salt, or you can be like me and just use a saline nose spray.
The final thrilling step is the one I am most excited about, the cold shower. This will be the strangest and most challenging aspect. I am use to a lovely tepid bucket bath, but for the purpose of X-treme, cold water here I come. First,  rub oil all over yourself, massaging and condition the skin (I like this part) then shower but keep it cold (or in my case, cold bucket bath) and WAKE UP!

source

Yoga am
I am going to start my morning with 15 minutes of sun salutations.

Walk it out
A 45 minute walk.

Yoga +
A full yoga routine for 30 minutes or more.

Meditation
Meditation for at least 10 minutes.

Then Read. Email. Facebook. and other as time permits.

*let the blog roll*

I have missed this….

Well that isn’t entirely honest. I haven’t blogged lately because I have found that I have been taken into the tentacles of life and have been busy and when I am not busy I find my mind preoccupied or my body hula hooping. I have been chewing up a lot of ideas about reality and myself and I am not sure it is at the place that it can be regurgitated, yet. But I have an idea that I think will light the firework (forth of July shout out) of passion that is sparked by a set schedule and obligations.

The 30 day quest. I am going to write little tidbits of information based on a general theme for a month and every month switch it up. This might sound lame but really I haven’t been crafting in a way that is interesting, my book isn’t good enough to write about it, I haven’t watched a movie in ages, but I have lots of information in my brain that I don’t know what to do with.

So this month because I am going to be “that person” is the month of the yogi.I was first going to make it health and wellness but I think it will be more interesting to have it be a yogi and my goal for this month will be to embody that for 30 days. I think this will definitely be interesting…at least for me.

Well lets start with this simplest aspect YOGA

I actually think this might be the most complicated aspect…woops. I am going to just talk about my understanding and my personal involvement with yoga. As a side note, I recall, I went to a yoga class with my mom, it was my mom’s first class-she knocked over workout equipment during the class, made the oddest faces and obnoxiously loud breathing and at the end of it-told me the yoga instructor was jealous of her flexibility.We had a blast and I will preface that people who get all pretentious about yoga are lame. Know what it is and what it can do but really just enjoy yourself. Some people (myself included) are all into the touchy feely aspects of life and some would rather not go there. It’s all up to you.

Yoga through definition of the word and through the practice is the unification of body, mind, spirit. Through the loveliness of marketing and get fit campaigns yoga for many it is like step aerobics, jazzercise, or any another exercise program but this is a gross disfiguring of it’s intentions but, like I said, you can get whatever you want from it. The thing that seperates hatha yoga (yoga of movement and posture) from good ol fashion stair master is the connection of breath and movement. I don’t know about you, but the last thing that I want to think about while on a piece of workout equipment, is being on that piece of workout equipment. I would bring magazines, ipod, books, dvds to the gym with me-it looked like I was a walking modern day library, heck anything to get my mind off of what I was actually doing. I would even open up a magazine not turn the page and just stare at pictures of hot celebrities and dream about getting their bodies (yuck).  Yoga, on the other hand, begs you to be right in the moment-leave your headphones at home because all you will hear is breathing, the silence of your mind and maybe some soft melodic music. Every branch of hatha is a little different and they all have different added bonuses to aid in connection, elevation and relaxation-some  have breathing practices, intention setting, chanting or  meditation. Some yoga classes are held in rooms with the temperature cranked up to 90 and the poses are always the same and some are done with variation based upon the needs of the class, there is most likely a type of yoga that appeals to you. Sometimes hot yoga would be what I was craving and sometimes I would go to the senior class so that I could take it easy and wind down.  Every class I have been to is a little different and teaches me something different. Yoga can also have remarkable healing properties for the body, you can contort the body to help alleviate physical ailments, lowering blood pressure, detoxifying the body, stimulating organs and can aid in health and wellness. The greatest health benefit can be the reduction of stress and the calming affect on the mind.

I will digress for a moment…from an evolutionary place our bodies are marvelous machines that have this mechanism most people are informed of, fight or flight. What this does is sends surges of hormones throughout our body in times of stress telling us either fight or well, run. Today, there isn’t a tiger or a honey badger that we need to be fearful of but there are a lot of other stresses that we create in our minds or are exposed to through media. It is self induced or you could call it synthetic stress because it is brought about through synthetic stimulous. Our minds are powerful as all hell but they are also kind of stupid and they don’t know the difference between what is really happening and what we are creating in our minds or seeing. So think about this-news programs, televisions show, movies, worrying, your bills, your relationships, your kids, the economy, the future, the past…AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH-you are freaking yourself out and our brains think all of it is happening to us, right in that moment.

Through creating a state of conscious relaxation yoga can remedy the surges of hormones that are screwing with your body, like puberty. And teach you how to relax into that state that is centered in the present and instead of surges of “oh crap” hormones flooding your system you can find peace and a little taste of connection. Moral of the story-yoga is good.

Different aspects of yoga appeal to different people, you might find that you really like one kind and don’t like another-if you have only tried one class or one video and it isn’t your thing-look again you might find something interesting. I went to a yoga class in the states and I really enjoyed the class until the instructor had us stand up and interpretative dance. Oh my gosh, I just stood there as he said things like you are a blade of grass in the wild, you are the waves of water, you are fire, you are wind-I literally did not move and never again went back. It was even more uncomfortable when I looked around and saw the ease that other people could be the wind, or water-all power to them but one thing I am not-wind. That was the only time I ever experienced anything like that, thank god! I am not anti people who are into that kind of stuff but this awkward lady prefers to be in a yoga class, back of the room, no one paying any attention and getting into my zone.

You can go to yoga classes, do workout videos, youtube video or use magazines or books. I have this book and my goal will be to do yoga every-ish day this month. Basically, as often as I am home and able, I am doing yoga.